State Can Go Ahead with Leflore Schools' Takeover | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

State Can Go Ahead with Leflore Schools' Takeover

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Leflore County school system will not be allowed to block the state from taking over.

In an order issued Thursday, the state Supreme Court says the school system has no legal right to appeal an emergency takeover order that was handed down by the governor.

Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd signed a temporary order blocking the takeover on Sept. 16. That's the same day Gov. Phil Bryant declared an emergency to let the state Department of Education to step in.

The school district argued it is owed formal legal appeals where it could put on evidence and question witnesses before the state may act.

The Department of Education says formal appeals are allowed when accreditation is downgraded or revoked, but none are required in declared emergencies leading to takeovers.

Kidd has said all along that he couldn't question an emergency declaration by Bryant, but had ruled that an appeal should be allowed before Bryant acted.

In a state takeover, the county's five school board members would be removed and barred from ever serving again after a district is returned to local control. The current elected superintendent would be deposed, and the position is usually changed to an appointed superintendent when a district returns to local control.

Claiborne County, which the state also took over in September, had filed a similar suit, but was rejected by a different judge.

With those two, the state will control nine districts. The others are Aberdeen, Sunflower-Drew, Indianola, Oktibbeha County, North Panola, Hazlehurst and Tate County.

Under current law, any district taken over by the state also would lose accreditation, meaning districts can play only half their regular-season high school athletic games and can't participate in playoffs. It does not affect a high school student's chance of being admitted into college.

Oktibbeha County is the only district currently without accreditation. The other six districts were taken over before the law was changed.

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